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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

All is right in the world on Opening Day

The economy is a nightmare and the weather around here is typical New England early spring misery but all that can be overlooked for a few hours when the Boston Red Sox are playing games that matter.

A day later than expected, due to a rainout, the Sox (1-0) opened up the 2009 season with a textbook 5-3 win over the defending AL Champions, your Tampa Bay Rays (0-1).

Josh Beckett (1-0) was the biggest star yesterday as he looked like the lights out Beckett of 2007. He went seven innings, allowing just one run on two hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts.

James Shields (0-1) was not nearly as stellar for the Rays. He lasted only five innings, giving up five runs on nine hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

The hype going into this season is that the Red Sox have one of if not the top pitching staff in baseball. A top three of Beckett, Jon Lester and Dice-K is pretty hard to argue with.

Conversely, the Sox lineup is much more of a question mark as players like Jacoby Ellsbury have to take the next step in their progression while automatic outs like Jed Lowrie and Jason Varitek have to improve, however slightly.

2008 American League MVP Dustin Pedroia is a sure thing and he exemplified that by hitting a homer over the Monster in his first at bat of the season.

Carl Crawford's sacrifice fly in the third tied it but Boston scored three in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good.

J.D. Drew grounded out for an RBI, Jason Bay had an RBI single and Mike Lowell (back from hip surgery) capped it off with an RBI double.

The most surprising part of the came occurred in the sixth when Varitek wrapped a home run around Pesky's Pole in right. For one day, the Captain didn't look like a zombie at the plate.

Evan Longoria hit a two-run single in the eighth off Justin Masterson (allowing Hideki Okajima's two runners he left on) to score but Jonathan Papelbon came on for a 1-2-3 save in the ninth.

Scott Kazmir takes on Lester tonight.

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